A Different Perspective on Running

A Different Perspective on Running

Like so many runners around the world, I’m at home, cheering on the incredible runners participating in the London Marathon. I’m reminiscing about this time last year, when we’d just finished the RnR Madrid half, and were enjoying lunch in a cafe in the centre of Madrid wearing our medals and tees.

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This year, things are pretty different. It won’t take a genius to work out that my running at the moment isn’t, well, what it has been in the past 😉

I’m out of shape, I’ve gained weight, but, well, I’m loving life!

I’m not going to be hard on myself – I run for fun, and for me, so I’m getting back into it by cutting my distance, and building back up again. Much kinder than beating myself up for struggling on a four miler! My training has been significanty affected by some personal stuff – so I’ve decided not to run the MOK Half. So, my next run will be the Color Run Glasgow this June, which will be the perfect, fun event for me to get back to it.

And, at the same time, I’m planning to give something back to the running community by volunteering.

We’re going to marshal at the Inveraray Jail Break next Sunday. And, would you believe it, I think I’m more excited than I’d be if I was running! 😀

I love Inveraray, it’s so beautiful. I love the Inveraray Jail – it’s a great day out!

The run takes participants from the jail, past Inveraray Castle (do you watch Downton Abbey? Remember the castle – the country estate- where cousin Rose is from? THAT is Inveraray Castle 😉 ), up a very steep hill to the viewpoint, and back to the castle. Take a look at this photo I took in March:


Now, look closely at the top of the hill. See that view point? That is the turning point in the race 🙂

It’s about time I gave back to running. And this is just the start.

I’m hoping to volunteer more – there’s this year’s Kintyre Way Ultra, and I’m hoping to play a small part supporting in that race too. And we’re also going to marshall at the MOK run, since we won’t be running. I’m sure it will be a brilliant day!

I think that this year may well become a different one to what I thought I’d have this year in terms of running – certainly our particiption in the May events will be –  but that’s no bad thing, and I’m very happy about it. Running for pleasure is where it’s at! 😀

Double Dead and Other Adventures

Double Dead and Other Adventures

After our gin experience, we were fortified by, ahem, some Dutch courage, and decided  to go on one of the tours that Edinburgh is famous for – a ghost tour. We wanted a late night one, so chose the 10pm Double Dead tour, knowing that we’d finish the tour around midnight, in a graveyard, in Edinburgh. 😀

Before that. we stopped by a couple of the older pubs on the Royal Mile: The World’s End and then Deacon Brodies. The World’s End pub is so-called because it stood right at the city wall in earlier centuries. If you don’t know the true story of Deacon Brodie and his secret double identity, you can read about it here. Finally, it was 10pm, and we were ready to go.

We gathered by St. Giles’ Cathedral with around 35 other willing victims participants, and headed to our first stop of the evening: the city vaults, led by our guide, David. Without revealing too much, the vaults are located in the old town, around and under the Royal Mile area. People used to live (and die) there, and there are countless tales of terror and paranormal activity down there, in the areas that have been excavated. It was fascinating.  I’ve been on a tour of the vaults once before, but it was a different area, so this part was new to me. After we had spent time listening to tales in the vaults, we headed to one ot the eeriest places in the city – Greyfriar’s Kirkyard.

Burials have been taking place there since the 16th Century, and conservative estimates puts the body count at around 300,000….. in such a small area. It made me shudder. We heard tales of the famous Mackenzie Poltergeist, and the hauntings and paranormal activity in the Covenanters’ Prison. Yes – there was indeed a prison in the graveyard. It was largely outdoors, which would have been an extra torture for those imprisoned there. We heard about the graverobbing that was prolific, and it’s where the term Resurrection Men was coined. Have you heard of Burke and Hare? Well, that’s where they started.  I managed to take some snaps while in the kirkyard:

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Although he’s spent quite a lot of time in Edinburgh over the past 11 or 12 years, @TheWelshWookie hasn’t done much of the ‘tourist stuff’, so we spent Monday catching up on some of that. First stop was the wonderful Mary King’s Close, which takes you around one of the excavated closes, which has been tranformed to show you how people really lived in those areas, under the city, during the plague and at other times. It is definitely worth a visit. We then had a wander along the Royal Mile. We diverted slightly by stopping off at the Elephant House for lunch, which is the very cafe where JK Rowling wrote the early Harry Potter books. Loved it! It has kept its own character, and hasn’t been turned into a Harry Potter theme shop.

In the afternoon, we spent time exploring Edinburgh Castle. I reckon it’s been maybe 30 years since I was last there. It felt like a priviledge to see the Stone of Destiny and the Scottish Crown Jewels.

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Obviously, we weren’t allowed to take pictures in the crown room – so you’ll have to make do with photos of Mon’s Meg (the giant cannon), the Castle and the view over the city instead 🙂

It was a busy, but fun, couple of days in the Capital 😉

I’m Banning Banter!

I’m Banning Banter!

Mike Stuchbery

I’m banning banter in my classroom.

Alright, alright! You can stop now! Stop throwing things! Sit down!

Look, lest you accuse me of lacking a sense of humour, let me establish my credentials: I was the kid in high school who called his school newspaper SYPHILIS, just so’s he could shout ‘Have you got Syphilis?‘ in the corridors. As a teacher, I like to think I continue to carry on as I begun, with impromptu games of Binball* and almost constant verbal sparring regarding my being an Aussie.

I’m no stranger to jokes. I adore ’em. However, I loathe banter.

Great-BanterBanter is one of the things I’ve had a real time adjusting to in Britain, alongside insane rental costs and the tendency to deep-fry everything.

Banter, once a term that was used to signify ‘light-hearted joking, a gentle ribbing of a friend’, now seems to be a catch-all…

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The Ups and Downs of Running

The Ups and Downs of Running

Hills. They’re hard work, challenging and necessary training for us runners. I’ll be facing some corkers at the TT10K in a fortnight.
But this post isn’t about hills. It’s about the highs and lows of running that I’ve been working on recently.
You might remember that I made the decision to withdraw from the Loch Ness Marathon a few weeks ago. Well, I’ve also made the call and withdrawn from the Great North Run too.
Although my ankle is doing ok, I haven’t really tested it on a long run, and as a result of that I think I haven’t done the training and preparation I would have liked. For me, running is, above all, about having fun, and I just don’t think I can give the run what it deserves this year. So, goodbye, race number, it was nice to have you in my hand for a minute before being posted back.

The good news is that I have a guaranteed spot for 2015: there’s always an upside 🙂
Now to the highs: I can really enjoy the Perth Kilt Run tomorrow, with no pressure or time in mind. Similarly, I’ll just be aiming to have fun at next weekend’s TT10K without any add on miles or stress. I’m just going to go along to both runs and enjoy myself. 🙂
After all, that’s what we run for, right?
I’m hoping for plenty of tartan photies tomorrow! 😛

GLASGOW 2014: Highs and Lows

GLASGOW 2014: Highs and Lows

Did you manage to watch any of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony?

What did you think?

I LOVED it! It was very self-depreciating, tongue in cheek, and just shows that we don’t always take ourselves too seriously 🙂


I loved the dancing Tunnock’s teacakes! I’d love one that size!


More importantly, I thought the UNICEF appeal was a fantastic idea, I wonder if that will now set a trend?

There seemed to be a lot of debate on Facebook and Twitter: lots of people loved it, others hated it, I thought it was great fun! Except Susan Boyle singing Mull of Kintyre (and unfortunately fogetting the words). I could have done without that!

I also loved Sir Chris Hoy saving the day, by opening up the Queen’s Baton.

And the Scotland team uniform is growing on me. A little. Except the socks. Yuk!

So, for me, the Opening has been a high. Lots of fun.

Now for the low: Mo Farah has pulled out. Boo! 😦 He hasn’t recovered sufficiently from illness, so I have no doubt he’s done the right thing. I guess it just reminds me that pulling out of a race can be a sign of strength, not weakness. He’s talked before about wanting to add a Commonwealth Gold to his collection, and I’m sure he’ll be disappointed.

Oh, well, I’ll still see Usain Bolt ‘flash’ past! 🙂

Fast verse Fun…the “Proper Runner” saga continues.

Fast verse Fun…the “Proper Runner” saga continues.

The Fat Girls Guide To Running

Ok so firstly let’s get one thing straight, the twitter debate last weekend between myself and Jason Henderson (editor or Athletics Weekly) was nothing at all to do with the concept of “Fun” runners, that is not a term you will ever hear me use, neither do I describe myself as “a Fat Jogger” else the website would be called something else wouldn’t it? No the debate last week was purely down to the suggestion that plodders and joggers were not “Real” runners.

You can check it our here if you haven’t seen it yet

20140517-143509.jpgDespite this minor discrepancy over terminology, Jason hits back this week in a two page spread on page 28-29 of his magazine summing up his thoughts. He makes some interesting points about what running actually means using the stats he has to hand about world record speeds for walking, and in competitive running through the…

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Warning: Jogger/Plodder = Not Real Runner

Warning: Jogger/Plodder = Not Real Runner

I has to share this!

The Fat Girls Guide To Running

It’s not often that I blog twice in one day, especially not on a Saturday when most blogs go unread anyway, in fact it may well be because it is a Saturday that the indiscretion I want to discuss has gone largely unnoticed. But I have to vent and bring it to your attention.

So I have been a runner for 10 years. I am not fast. I am not athletically built. But I do run. I run at parkrun, I run with a running club, I run by myself sometimes, oh and did I mention I run marathons too? I also write this blog to try to motivate overweight and inactive women to take up and improve in the sport of running. But believe me trying to encourage new runners into the sport is a difficult job, one which requires a collective effort…I can not do it alone. And…

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Almost There…

Almost There…

Well, in a little over 24 hours, @TheWelshWookie and I will be getting married! I’m reblogging this video clip from my wedding blog, which I posted yesterday. I sure many of you will have seen this: it’s awesome!

Brazen Scottish Conservatives refuse to admit their lying over food safety in Scottish schools

Brazen Scottish Conservatives refuse to admit their lying over food safety in Scottish schools

Patrick Mackie

I’ve now heard from Tom Wall, the Digital Editor for Environmental Health News, that he’s had a response form the Scottish Conservative party about their mischief-making over food safety in Scottish schools. They do not deny the accusation of lying or mischief-making. Draw your own conclusions, folks.

In fact, you can email them at michael.tait@scottish.parliament.uk if you think their position is cowardly and contemptuous of the electorate – or if you think their position is virtuous and bold and you wish to congratulate them for sticking by their guns. Or you can follow their Twitter feed at @ScotTories, or even send them a message congratulating them on their brass neck.

The email exchange between Tom Wall and Michael Tait is below:

From:Michael.Tait@scottish.parliament.uk <Michael.Tait@scottish.parliament.uk>
Sent: Monday, March 17, 2014 11:40 PM
To: Tom Wall
Subject: RE: School standards press release ‘misleading’

Dear Tom,

We have no further response…

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Foodsafety mischief by Scottish Conservatives published in EHN_Online

Foodsafety mischief by Scottish Conservatives published in EHN_Online

Patrick Mackie

My small but persistent request for evidence from the Scottish Conservatives about the data underlying their mischievous claims about food safety in Scottish schools has been picked up by the prestigious on-line environmental health journal, EHN Online. Tom Wall, the reporter who wrote the story based upon the posts in this blog, relates that even he couldn’t get the party to show their working. Perhaps shaming on a UK stage will now prompt a response. As always, watch this space.

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